CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has warned students and their parents to be cautious of potential scams when applying for scholarships.

In a press release, Morrisey's office said it has heard of a new scam about revolves around fraudulent scholarship websites and offers. In this scam, a person will set up a website that offers to match students with potential scholarships he or she may be eligible for. However, before the student can see the list of scholarships, he or she is asked to either pay an upfront fee or provide personal, private information.

“While there are several reputable websites that provide students with information on how to apply and receive valuable scholarships, some sites exist only to scam applicants,” Morrisey said in the release. “Receiving a scholarship is not only an honor, it also is a great benefit for your future education.

"Unfortunately, there are some people out there who try to take advantage of hardworking students or their parents.”

When applying for and researching scholarships, here a few tips to follow:

* Avoid scholarship websites that require personal information such as the applicant’s Social Security number.

* Be wary of websites that require users to pay a fee in order to search for and learn about scholarships, or charge a fee to help a student receive a scholarship. Stick to free scholarship search sites and applications.

* Research scholarships before applying. Talk to a guidance counselor, academic advisor, or the group that offers the scholarship before applying to verify that the scholarship offer is legitimate. Determine whether there are any specific terms or conditions that have to be met if you accept the scholarship.

“Our office encourages students to apply for as many scholarships as possible.” Morrisey said “We just want to ensure the students do their research before applying.”

Those who believe they have been a victim of a scholarship scam are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or  towww.ago.wv.gov




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